As per ‘ViewerTrack 2005’, Super Bowl was the most watched television sports event
The world’s sporting calendar operates on a quadrennial cycle. This is why in even-digit years, the most watched TV sporting events are always headed by the Football World Cup, the European Football Championships and the Summer Olympic Games.
As per ‘ViewerTrack 2005’, a study conducted for sports fans by Initiative, 2005 was a relatively quiet year due to the absence of these four-yearly events. This opened the way for an annual event – the Super Bowl – to emerge as the topmost television sports event. A global average audience of 9.3 crore viewers tuned in to watch the New England Patriots defeating the Philadelphia Eagles. The US accounted for more than 90 per cent of the global audience for the Super Bowl.
The second most popular event of 2005 was the UEFA Champions League Final, between Liverpool and AC Milan. The match attracted an average audience of 7.3 crore viewers, two crore less than for the Super Bowl. The third most popular event was the Canadian Grand Prix in the FIA Formula One World Championship season. This race enjoyed 5.1 crore viewers on an average, which is more than two crore behind the UEFA Champions League Final.
In all, ViewerTrack 2005 monitored television viewers from arguably the most high-profile event in 14 of the world’s most popular sports. In addition to American football, soccer and Formula One, the survey also monitored television audiences for 2005’s major global tournaments in athletics, baseball, basketball, cricket, cycling, golf, handball, ice hockey, swimming and tennis. The report also included viewing data for the announcement of the winning city to host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
For an event to attract a big worldwide audience, it helps to have global appeal. For example, the mass appeal of soccer in most markets helps to propel it towards the top of any table of the most popular events in sports.
However, not all of the most watched TV sporting events in the world have global reach. For example, the US alone accounted for over 90 per cent of last year’s live global audience for the Super Bowl and also for the deciding games in the World Series and NBA finals.
To assess which sports are truly global, Initiative calculated the percentage of the worldwide audience accounted for by the top three rating markets for each of the surveyed events. This figure was lowest for the European Champions League Final at 40 per cent. On this measure, this is a sign of the long-term health of the event since it is the least dependent of any of those surveyed on achieving high ratings in any single market. By contrast, if UK audiences for the Ashes, or US viewing figures for the Super Bowl or the World Series, were to fall, then that could have a sizeable effect on their global popularity.
Defined thus, the most ‘global’ of the 14 surveyed events of 2005 included the European Champions League Final and the Canadian Grand Prix. At the other extreme, by this definition, were events such as the Ashes, the World Series and the Super Bowl, which could definitely not be considered global affairs.
The broadcast arrangements across the surveyed markets were varied, with a mixture of free to air/ pay TV and live/ time shifted broadcasts. In some markets, a number of these leading sporting events were not even broadcast at all.
The top three rating markets were the US (14.7 crore people), the UK (3.2 crore people) and France (2.7 crore people). Given that the fourth and fifth biggest markets were Germany and Italy, respectively, it is clear that the established sporting nations of the West, with the largest populations and most comprehensive television broadcast arrangements, deliver the largest absolute audiences and greatest potential for advertisers to communicate with sports fans in significant numbers.
Premjeet Sodhi, vice-president and head, Intellect, says: “Intellect, Initiative’s research and technologies division, compiles television viewership data from over 53 countries and puts it together, after analysis, in the study, ViewerTrack 2005. We obtained data from the television measurement authorities in the respective countries. In India, we obtained data from TAM Media Research.”
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